In Functional Training movement quality comes first

2. Quality over quantity

„If a motion-sequence is executed with bad formal technique, this bad movement is saved with the motoric system. Exercise by itself does not lead to perfection; it is only perfect exercise that makes us the perfect athlete. “ (Cook, 2011, S.22).

This quote makes, in my opinion, very clear a second fundamental characteristic of Functional Training: quality of movement. When I say (in the introduction) that Functional Training is not necessarily something new I am first and foremost talking about the individual exercises. Which is indeed new is the fact that people try harder to explain the frame in which appropriate movement takes place. More on this topic can be found in chapter 8 of my e-book “Beweglichkeit”.

movement quality stretching mobility functional training

Gray Cook has developed the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), a test battery consisting of seven movement patterns that rates the qualitative execution of the fundamental movement patterns in a very simple, straightforward manner:

  • 0 points = pain (consult a therapist)
  • 1 point = insufficient quality (should be corrected with appropriate exercises)
  • 2 points = sufficient (more or less the minimum standard)
  • 3 points = optimal quality (nice to have)

„I don’t consider the aforementioned seven movement patterns components in the fundament of functional movements in sport. I see them much rather as the shapeable material that every single component is made of. These movements connect all sports because they are the basic requirements for every human movement. The biggest mistake you can see in modern sport medicine and fitness training is an too early concentration on sport specific movements.

My test series is far from a law carved in stone. It is just a simple and quick method to show the most basic aspect of human performance which is the capability for free mobility “ (Cook, 2011, S.58).

Additionally, and for me the most important aspect of FMS, this test exposes left-right asymmetries which can be eliminated afterwards.

„Functional Training is a form of training that establishes movement symmetry between the left and right half of the body and can improve the balance between mobility and stability within the body “ (Cook, 2011, S.72).

With this test we have a tool that allows us to determine whether the testee has movement deficits that can hinder him from performing optimal movement patterns and is therefore exposed to an increased risk for injury.

Of course you can argue whether the given guidelines of FMS for quality of movement is coherent for our species. However, I can say that in relation to health sport I haven’t noticed any discrepancies and this is why I apply them.

An ever increasing number of coaches and therapists seem to feel the same way because they incorporate this test into their programs.

You can find the other posts of this series here:

Part 1: Training movement patterns

Part 3: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Author: Tom Schwendener

Tom Schwedener is a full-time sports teacher. Since his interest in health-conscious kinetics and fitness training has steadily increased and he doesn’t feel that the common training models are optimal he has designed his own concept under the label SFT Swiss Functional Training®. Click here to visit Toms homepage and here to follow him on Facebook.

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